If you’ve read the Harry Potter books, you may remember the magical Room of Requirement.  This is a room where any need can be met.  According to Beth Holland, in the Cape Elizabeth Library Learning Commons (http://capellc.cape.k12.me.us), a student looked at the new library learning commons and said to Library Information Technology Specialist, Jonathan Werner (@MaineSchoolTech), “You’ve given us a Room of Requirement!”  This is the kind of excitement that a library learning commons can inspire.

With information available 24-7 on computers and all sorts of devices, the librarian and the library learning commons are the people and spaces that help students make sense of all the information that they are retrieving. Beth Holland’s webinar on transforming libraries into library learning commons broke the transformation down into five key areas.  The library learning commons, according to David Loertscher (source – http://www.slj.com/2008/11/technology/flip-this-library-school-libraries-need-a-revolution/#_)should be:


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Credit: Francis Parker School, Chicago, used with permission.

    1. Collaborative
    2. Connected 
    3. User focused 
    4. Student Generated 
    5. Flexible

Can libraries become rooms of requirement? According to Beth Holland, they can, and they don’t necessarily need expensive makeovers to transform to the learning commons model. Holland challenged listeners to think about how the library learning commons space can meet students’ needs and facilitate the  co-construction of knowledge. With user focused and flexible spaces, students can set up the space to drive their learning and this, she said, can actually get them on task quicker and keep them more engaged.  She showed how painting one wall green was an inexpensive way to create a green screen that would be used by many students in one school. A dingy hallway became a collaborative space as the stairs allowed students to be able to reach up and write on the walls at their own height as they brainstormed together.

In looking at connectivity, Holland encouraged librarians to consider maintaining a balance of  what Todd Burleson (@Todd_Burleson) calls “books and bytes.” One example of this was the creation of “cabinets of curiosity” that could be both physical and digital in nature using augmented reality apps that would guide students to various points in the so-called cabinet, a concept demonstrated at the Stephen Perse Foundation (https://stephenperse.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/quaquaversal-cabinet-of-curiosities-and-the-school-library/).

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Credit:  Musei Wormiani Historia, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

By allowing students to help design the library learning commons (for example,educator Douglas Kiang (@dkiang) asked students “where do you feel most creative?”), librarians can step back and act as conductors while students are the performers who contribute ideas toward making spaces that students want to come into and that allow students to learn how to learn.

Holland quoted librarians Jonathan Werner (@MaineSchoolTech) and Jennifer Lagarde (@jenniferlagarde) who suggested that before making the changes, you should “research, research and research some more.”  In order to get teachers, principals and school board/district administrators excited about the library learning commons model, you should look for that one need that you can meet now whether it’s creating a professional development space or a meeting space.  This connection may be the key to gaining their support.

Everyone needs a Room of Requirement at some point and the library learning commons can be that space that fulfills a large variety of learning needs in our schools!

To access the webinar, register to edWeb. Once you sign up, you can use the following link to access the webinar: http://home.edweb.net/webinar/from-library-and-learning-space-to-learning-commons/ . You will be asked for your name and email address and then you will be connected to the recording of the webinar.